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Published On: May 7, 2024|Categories: Substance Abuse|

When you are in recovery for an alcohol use disorder (AUD), you are likely to find that a sober environment during the initial stages of recovery is what you need to feel supported while minimizing the possibilities of relapse.

But as your recovery progresses and you feel stronger in your resolve and ready to engage and enter into different aspects of normal life outside of treatment, you may wonder – is it okay to be around friends who still drink alcohol?

Can I maintain friendships with those who drink?

Whether or not you choose to be around friends who consume alcohol is entirely up to you. For some people, they find that they are able to be around friends who still drink without any temptations or cravings. Others find that those who continue to drink pose too much a threat to their recovery and therefore need to create some space in the relationship.

While it may be difficult to realize that you need to distance yourself from some of your friends, you may realize that certain people you spent increased amounts of time with actually enabled and/or encouraged unhealthy habits. In an effort to increase wellness in your life, it is okay to seek space from those who promote an environment of unhealthy peer pressure. 

You know your recovery journey the best, and you know your friends well, too. If you feel strong enough to be around others who drink, we applaud your sobriety and encourage the pursuit of healthy friendships. If, however, you recognize that certain relationships would compromise your recovery, we admire your strength in setting those boundaries and demanding that space.

How to maintain sobriety from alcohol around friends

If you are seeking to be around your friends while also maintaining sobriety, there are plenty of ways you can go about it. You do not need to fear your friends – rather, this is a beautiful time in which you and they can foster good coping mechanisms and healthy habits altogether.

Drink a mocktail

If everyone around you is drinking some kind of alcohol, it can feel a bit odd being the only one without a drink in your hand. If you are going to a friend’s for an event, don’t be afraid to bring your own drink, like sparkling water, iced tea, or soda. Or, if you’re out with friends, ask the bartender to make you a mocktail. There are tons of yummy options to keep you distracted from the thought of not drinking. 

Have a plan

Your recovery comes first and foremost, and that means knowing when you need to leave an event in order to protect your sobriety. If you know an event gets particularly rowdy at a certain point, have a plan to leave before this occurs. Or, have an accountability buddy who knows your situation and is okay checking in on you to make sure you are comfortable. 

Invite your friends to do different things

It is easy to invite people out for drinks or post-work happy hours. But there are plenty of activities that do not involve drinking which you can ask your friends to enjoy with you. 

Consider inviting a group of people over for a game night where everyone brings a snack to share; having a craft night where everyone paints their own canvas and sets the mood with some fun background music and candles; going on a hike together and sharing a picnic lunch at the finish; booking an escape room or visiting a museum or amusement park all together.

Set good boundaries

Consider making your home a sober environment where friends are always welcome but alcohol is not. This will give you control over when and how often you’re exposed to alcohol, giving you a safe space to retreat to if needed during times of temptation or struggle. 

What can I do to help my sober friend?

If, on the other side of things, have a friend who is working towards sobriety and has been pursuing recovery from an AUD, it is important to be understanding and considerate of their position if you want to maintain a healthy friendship with them.

In order to avoid enabling (the practice of promoting unhealthy habits in those around you), take the time to talk with your friends and learn what they need from you. Do they need an exit buddy in case an event or hangout gets too tempting? Do they need someone to check in on them during the night to make sure they’re not drinking? Do they just need someone who knows about their situation?

Whatever it is that your friend is in need of, take the time to learn it and put it into practice in order to best support their recovery journey and maintain a healthy friendship with them. 

Need additional AUD recovery support?

If you are pursuing recovery and need additional support, or if you are in the early stages of pursuing treatment for an alcohol use disorder, High Focus Centers is here to help. Contact our staff of professional therapists anytime by calling 866-204-7306 or contacting us online.

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